Category Archives: Spin Doctor

WARNING: 2014 MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH

2014 Predictions from NovelPolitics

Sometime in the Spring, or maybe as early as the State of the Union, or maybe five minutes from now, the Obama Administration is going to come out with a new narrative. So buckle up, Republicans. Democrats, you can breathe now.

We found out what is in store for 2014 when we overheard Jack and Bob this morning, in their usual spot in the back bar of the Old Ebbitt Grill.Old Ebbitt

Jack slid his bar stool back and climbed on. Bob was already there, of course, and pointed at the bartender, then Jack.

Without a word, the bartender brought over two egg nogs. “On me,” he said

Jack thanked him. Bob nodded, with a weak smile. “What the hell is that?” he whispered to Jack.

“Egg nog. It’s good for you.” Jack took a sip. “Evan’s not coming. He said he was out late.”

“Evan?”

“I know. I don’t believe him either. He seems so worried about the coming year, you know? What do you think will happen, Bob?”

“You aren’t serious. Surely the Spin Doctor knows. Surely you can read this like a slow pitch curve ball.”

“Okay. Here’s the Obama spin: “The economy is looking stronger than ever. The patient was gravely ill, curled up in a ball, unconscious under the front porch when the Obama administration took over. After a strong dose of shovel ready projects, and binge spending, finally the eyes are open. Look, the unemployment rate is down to 7%. Wow. Bet it goes into the sixes before the election.”

“Now, imagine Beyonce singing that.” Bob took a sip of his scotch and drained the glass.

Beyonce

“Exactly. Nobody look at that swelling non-participation in the economy—which puts the unemployment rate closer to 10 percent. Or the number of folks on food stamps…”

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Bla bla bla.”

“Agreed. But what about Obamacare? No way to spin that.”

Bob blinked. He watched the bartender at the other end of the bar and quickly poured his egg nog into Jack’s glass. Then he waved the bartender and waggled his scotch glass. “Listen.” He said to Jack. “Pay attention…Obamacare is really going to work. Look at all the people who signed up. Wow. And don’t worry–all of the mandates are going to be delayed. It won’t be so strong. Put it in some cocoa, or maybe a fruitcake, like brandy, if you don’t like it straight. Over time, you will get used to it. And besides, don’t you care about people? Do you want people to be sick?”

oprah

The bartender put a fresh scotch in front of him. He smiled and went on. “Now, imagine Matt Damon and George Clooney lecturing you about that. Oprah agrees. And, Beyonce is singing in the background.”

Jack squinted at him, slowly nodded and sipped the egg nog.

“See, you are already forgetting that you used to have a policy you liked, that children were covered under a special policy, that the poor had Medicaid and the elderly had Medicare.”

Jack shrugged. “Yeah, yeah. Whatever. What about the Republicans? They have a lot of other issues.”

“Sure. But don’t forget, the press is busy squirting gasoline on the bonfire of Republican disunity to stop them from making some of these rather obvious points.”

Jack frowned. “I’ll give it a try. The message of Benghazi, that an inept administration with a low priority on national security and security in general screwed up royally then covered up. Yes. Covered up the mess before the election. Cover up Cover up Cover up. I said it.”

“Aha. Yes. But did you overstep? Where’s the smoking gun?”

Jack shook his head. “Nice try. What about the IRS? How the IRS has been used as a tool to silence opponents of the administration. How the press accepts the bromides of the regime that both sides were scrutinized without blinking. How this scrutiny continues…”

“Oh sure. I know it reeks of Nixon but hey, they won’t get that far with it because the Democrats will come back with what they like to call the wingnut mocking gambit.”

“Huh?”

“Sure. Right now, they are scouring the countryside for a fringe Republican who will make an inflammatory comment about women. Rape, if at all possible. So they can push the buttons of the legions of young women who vote on one issue. They will find someone to mock, and the mocking will spread to the rest of the party. Some Republicans will disavow, some will try to explain, but meanwhile, everybody stops talking about Obamacare and Benghazi.”

Jack sighed. “I have to admit–it has a familiar ring to it. So, will the Republicans be able to take the Senate? What is your call?”

“Hey, don’t ask me what the people are going to do. Politicians I can figure out. The people? We will have to wait and see.”

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Filed under 2014 election, Senate, Spin Doctor, White House

Bob and Jack Translate the White House #Benghazi Email

When the  email “sent by a top aide to President Barack Obama” was revealed by CNN, I had to get Spin Doctor out to see if it had been copied from its pages. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. But when I showed it to my lawyer and demanded he prepare a lawsuit, he was confused. I realized, he didn’t speak High Bureaucrat.  ne comprend pas–.no entiende–nicht verstehen

But he is not alone.  CNN clearly couldn’t order a glass of water or get directions to the cinema. They have no idea what the email actually says. And now, I see the White House is accusing the GOP of “falsifying” emails. I know this is all just a misunderstanding based on difficulty with the language. And I realized– we simply need a translation.

So, I asked Bob and Jack, two characters from Spin Doctor, to translate: First I had to find them. It didn’t take long. Yes, of course.

2011-08-20_17-39-58_421There they were at the Grant bar in the back of the  Old Ebbitt…


“Here. I’ll just read it out loud for you,” Jack
 took his phone back. “here’s the first part: Jack slid his Iphone over to Bob, who patted his pockets for a pair of reading glasses.

“All,

Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.”

Jack: “It sounds harmless, doesn’t it.”

Bob nodded. “ Nicely done. Let’s break it down into the individual idiomatic expressions:”

   “Sorry to be late to this discussion:”

It means, “I have been reading the emails, watching everything you are saying and  thought I better put a stop to this before anything more incriminating goes out.”

Next,

              “We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation:”

Bob smiled. Good one. “In case this email is leaked, it is on the record that I am not trying to impede the investigation. In fact, that’s my cudgel to shut you up. “

                        “There is a ton of information getting out into the public domain  from Congress and people who are not particularly informed.”

Jack leaned forward. “My turn—“The truth is getting out and it is drawing blood of the administration. Our adversaries are using it against us, making it look like we messed up.”

“Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or compromise the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression. 

Bob reached for his glass of Scotch, swirled the ice and took a reverent sip. “Really, if Shakespeare had been a politician, he couldn’t have done better than this one. I am thinking of doing this in needlepoint and hanging this on the wall.”

Jack nodded. “Or maybe make a pillow?”

Bob took another sip. “Yes, a pillow would be nice.”

Jack sipped his beer and sighed. “Here goes:”

“Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel  or compromise the investigation—”

Bob started slowly, choosing every word. “This is the fig leaf we will use to stop others from poking around in this…The sand we throw in their eyes when they ask questions–sorry to mix my metaphors–  And by constantly swearing to honor the investigation, I am protected from obstruction charges.”

“We need to have the capability to correct the record –”

 After another sip, for strength, Bob went on: “We have to come up with an alternate story and stick to it–go out there and say it over and over to drown out the critics. By the way, if it is pure fiction, it doesn’t impact the intel or investigation.”

“… as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.”

Bob waggled his glass at the bartender and drew in a breath. “There is an election going on and if the press starts listening to our critics and takes up the story before we have a chance to bat it down, we will be out of here on our skinny liberal asses, and the Philistines will be back–Sorry if that was a run on sentence, but there was a lot in it.”

“We will take this up tomorrow at deputies.”

Jack looked over at Bob, who was out of Scotch and mentally fatiqued. “I can do this one Bob. You don’t have to be fluent to get it–‘Don’t send out any more emails on this. Stop now. I’m not putting anything else in writing and neither should you. I will tell you what to say tomorrow at the meeting, behind closed doors.’”

Bob nodded. “Amen. With truth and justice for all.”

“That’s it. Short and sweet.”

Bob leaned in. “Not quite. There is the other shoe. You know. What happened next.”

Jack said “I’ll bite. What do you mean? What happened next?”

“The meeting was on Friday, September 14th, right? Starting on the Sunday, the 16th, various officials  starting with Susan Rice, and later,  Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama,  went out and told everyone about the video. Over and over again. No fingerprints. No incriminating emails.”

Jack frowned a moment, then nodded. “Oh, right. To make sure they didn’t “harden the mis-interpretation.”

Bob  “That’s right. Just the truth. Good thing the truth will set you free.”

“Although, maybe not in this case.”

*********************

If you want to talk to Bob and Jack about this, I’m pretty sure they left the Old Ebbitt. First of all, they abhor tourists. No offense. Also, they heard someone say there was no “there” there, so they left.

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Washington is NOT BROKEN

Old EbbittThree characters  from my novel Spin Doctor, Bob, Jack and Evan met it the backroom bar at the Old Ebbitt earlier today. The TV was tuned to the Sunday morning shows, Meet the Press, to be exact:

“…Washington is broken…”

Evan shook his head. “ This is so wrong.”

Bob put down his glass. “What are you talking about? Did they run out of bar snacks?”

Evan nodded at the TV. “No. Washington is broken. Didn’t you hear?”

“Bull…” Bob stopped himself, looked around and went on in a softer voice: “Washington is not broken. Washington is working perfectly.”

Jack leaned in. “Um. Bob. Have you been out of town? The Sequester? Hello, hello? Earth to Bob.”

Bob took a sip. “Funny. Yes, I know.” He drained the glass and waved to the bartender. “What amazes me is that nobody has read the damn Constitution. Nobody has read James Madison. Washington isn’t supposed to make fast laws. Not supposed to make policy like cars coming off the assembly line …”

Jack and Evan looked at each other. Jack lifted his beer, tasted it and eyed Bob. “Come on. We aren’t supposed to have gridlock.”

“Oh really? Why do you think we have gridlock? You know, you guys scare me sometimes. We have all these newbies that come to Washington, but you two live here. You are supposed to be pros.”

Evan and Jack stared at him in silence.

“Let me explain to you. We have the President. He thinks he has a mandate. He believes in whatever he is saying and is trying to get his way. He’s gone in three and a half years, with a little time at the end, maybe one to two years where his power will leak out like Huck Finn’s bag of cornmeal with a hole in it.’

The bartender slid a glass in front of him, he sipped, and went on: “So then, you have the House. It turns out they just got elected t00. Every one of them, in each little Podunk district. And guess what? They are already running for reelection. They don’t have time to make friends or eat lunch. The new ones are trying to learn while looking like they know everything, when they don’t actually know the difference between GSA and GAO. They don’t know who they can trust so they trust nobody. “

Another sip. Bob nodded at Evan. “And then there’s the Senate. They are there six years, so they get to know each other. Some of them even have friends who in the other party.”

Evan straightened up and faked a yawn. “Bob, thanks for the civics lesson but what the hell does this have to do with anything? How does that have to do with the Sequester?”

“Okay, don’t get me wrong, I know the Sequester sucks as a law. But it is where we are. There is no consensus. It is the job of the House to reflect their constituency and to throw themselves in front of a policy they think their folks will hate—raising taxes. The President’s job is to push his agenda. He’s doing that. And the Senate, they are supposed to be reflective and look at the big picture, the precedents, the long term effect. Most of them have been there a few years, so they should know a little history, know how things work. And if something is especially bad, they have the filibuster.”

Jack leaned in: “That’s nice Bob. You are basically saying you think gridlock is okay.”

“No I’m saying there is gridlock because there is no consensus. Nothing wrong with the system. Remember, the alternative to gridlock is to just go along with everything.”

Evan shook his head again. “What about national security? If we can’t get this resolved, I mean, I think we could have a major problem there.”

“So do I. But that isn’t because Washington is broken. It’s because of policy failures. It’s because of inept governing. There is no law we can pass that will protect against bad policy.”

“What’s the answer then,Bob?How is it going to turn out?”

“The polls tell the President he has support. Congress hears from folks back home that they better not capitulate. When those two facts change, either the President’s poll numbers or  the situation in various districts, we will get some motion. Is the economy getting better? Will the cuts really hurt? Will Obama lose credibility by claiming he has to beach aircraft carriers? Will the six Democratic Senators in Romney states who are running  in ’14 feel the love from their state? .  Hard to say.  Meanwhile, let’s get another drink.”

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Tick Tock: Predictions Please!

We are coming down to the wire. There is still time for a surprise or two. Gallup? Rasmussen? ABC-Washington Post- NYT -CBS … They’re all over the map. But come on, you know you have an opinion. Time to show your cards:

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The Foreign Policy Debate: What did you think?

See Poll on Left Sidebar

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Bob and Jack Missing; Possible sighting near Hofstra (Pls Tweet if you spot them)

Apparently there is a bar near Hofstra called the Dizzy Lizard. They aren’t answering their cell phones. I expected this of Bob. In fact, I thought Bob might accidentally go to Detroit to watch the Yankees. But Jack? Not sure how he’s going to spin this.

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Filed under 2012 Election, campaign tactics, Spin Doctor, White House

Predictions on the VP Debate: Bob and Jack are Back

Jack pushed open the door of the bar and squinted into the dark until he saw Bob.  “Why aren’t you at the Old Ebbitt? I’ve been to half the bars in town looking for you. Are you coming over to Evan’s tonight to watch the debate?”

Bob watched him approach. “The debate? What about the game?”

“We have that covered. Two TVs. Side by side.”

ow.ly/epoEE

“Can I have the remotes?”

“No. And, Evan said not negotiable.”

Bob nodded thoughtfully.”I guess we know who will win anyway, since it’s all in Spin Doctor.”

Jack dragged a bar stool into position and sat next to Bob. “By the way, I have to hand it to you. You nailed it. Watching with the sound off may be one of your best ideas yet.”

Bob shrugged. “You seem surprised.”

“I thought you were just looking for an excuse to hang out in a bar.”

“Right. Like I need an excuse.”

“Okay, smart guy. What about the VP debate?”

“You tell me. You’re the Spin Doctor, after all.”

“I think we go with the sound off again”  Jack waved at the bartender and ordered a Bass Aie.

Bob nodded. “But not because of the visuals. It is possible that listening to this debate, without proper medication, could induce drowsiness.”

“So you don’t think Biden will implode?”

Bob shook his head. “Biden is over rated as an entertainment. He knows how to woo an audience, that’s all. Sometimes he gets caught by another audience that thought he loved them more.”

“What are you talking about? He’s married.”

“Funny. Ha ha. You know what I mean. He can talk to the Economic Club of Chicago and the Brotherhood of Baggage Handlers  and they both will think he’s their guy. Then, they see the news and find out he has a multiple personality disorder.”

“Exactly. And it will be great!”

The bartender slid the bottle of beer in front of Jack, no glass, and another drink in front of Bob.

Bob went on:“No. Think. Tonight the audience is everybody. Tonight he will be buttoned down and buttoned up. No gaffes, no shooting from the lip. Just get out of the debate alive with no headlines. He can’t move the needle so–just don’t blow it.”

Jack blinked at him. “No. I don’t think so. He has absolutely nothing to lose tonight. He’ll swing for the fences. Hold up Big Bird’s lifeless body.  He is going to go for the jugular, be the defender of the President. Even if he goes over the line, he’s not going to lose votes. But, he might energize the base. Right now, the air is coming out of the base. Turnout will be everything.”

“So what are you saying? You have too many metaphors. I can’t follow.”

“Abortion. The women have fled the ticket. This is no time for sweet talk. Immigration, another base issue. And then, a blend of economics aimed at black voters.”

Bob’s pinkish eyes  widened. “The race card?”

“Not saying they will play it. But they might accidentally drop it on the table then quickly pick it up.”

Bob stirred the ice cubes in his glass with the bar straw.

“What do you think?”

“Does Evan have any Glen Fiddich or should I bring my own?”

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Filed under 2012 Election, campaign tactics, Spin Doctor

Debate Advice from Jack and Bob: Look, Don’t Listen!

I know the debate could not possibly be as eventful as the one in Spin Doctor.  However, I asked a couple of characters to give us a report on it:

Jack pushed his way through the tourists at the Old Ebbitt toward the bar in the back, where he was surprised to see Bob, already at the bar. “I thought M.C. asked you to go to Colorado for the debate. What are you doing here?”

Bob shifted on the barstool. “I’m supposed to watch the debate, right? So I can do that here.”

“No, you are supposed to be there. In person.” Jack slid onto the stool next to him, waived at the bartender and pointed to the Heineken tap.

Bob shook his head. “First of all, the people in the room will have no idea what is going on. They will talk to each other, squint at the stage, strain to hear over the applause that isn’t supposed to happen.” He took a sip of an amber drink in a short glass. “If you want to know what happens, you have to watch TV.”

The bartender placed a napkin in front of Jack and set the beer on it. When he went back to the other end of the bar, Jack went on: “Well you aren’t going to try to watch it here, are you?  I mean it isn’t noisy, but you won’t be able to hear a word they say.”

“Exactly. If I watched it at home, I would be tempted to listen. But that’s a mistake.”

“No. Seriousy. You can come over to Evan’s condo. We are going to get some beer and watch it there.”

“No. Thanks anyway.” Bob waved his empty glass  at the bartender, who nodded  back. “Besides, you two will probably make a drinking game out of the word “deficit” or “fiscal cliff.” You really can tell what’s going on better with the sound off. It’s visual. It doesn’t matter what they say. It’s how they react.”

“Really.”

“Stop saying that. I’m not kidding. Remember the Lloyd Bentsen-Dan Quayle moment? It wasn’t what he said as much as Quayle’s reaction. And Bush the Elder, when he looked at his watch. Visual. Didn’t say a word.”

“That was ages ago. Don’t you think voters are more sophisticated now? “

“Maybe. But it’s still about what your eyes take in. If you hear the words, it’s hard to concentrate on the visuals.”

“I’m starting to believe you are serious. What about the last election?”

“Easy.  The debate was a draw. Amiable old guy versus smooth young guy.  Bush the younger won both of his, but not on words. Gore and Kerry struck some voters as condescending. Like they were talking to a group of naughty five year olds.  And remember Gore’s sighs? And those Reagan moments they keep playing in a loop? You can tell without the sound that he nailed those lines.”

“I still think M.C. wanted you to go to Colorado.”

“Look, nothing like what happens in Spin Doctor is going to happen in this debate. I’m not going to another time zone. Also, the air is thin. And it’s not like I’m going to find anything out in those spin rooms. I can tell you what they’re going to say before the debate starts.”

“Plus, there is no bar in the auditorium.”

“I very much doubt it.”

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October 3, 2012 · 12:57 pm

A whiff of Sabotage? Or just getting ready to abandon ship?

A spate of articles report that some pundits think Obama fizzled at the Convention.  According to Politico, before the Obamas left the stage, James Carville tweeted : “Certainly not the best speech of this convention.” WaPo’s Dana Milbank’s headline: “Obama the Demigod Comes Down to Earth.”

Are the Clintonistas shuffling toward the exits? Or bolting? Do I detect the notes of  a carefully spun narrative, whispered into a few eager but discreet media ears?  Now wafting out into the media airwaves, with no fingerprints and no smoking gun? A muffled clinking of the Clinton train as it is unhitched from the Obama engine? . .
Not saying they want Romney to win, do they?
What do you think? Vote in my poll, or leave me a comment.

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Jack and Bob uncover vicious infighting at the Democratic Convention

Jack* and Bob* finally made it to Charlotte. They missed the mimosa brunch but while  they waited outside their hotel for the shuttle bus,  they sent me this quick update:

Jack: M.C. wants to know what really happened with the change of venue for the President’s speech? Did you find  anything out?

Bob:  Did you see the movie, “There Will Be Blood?” Neither did I, but I like the title.

Jack: And?

Bob: They’ve been fighting about this for the last year. One side said, “We have to have a stadium and a gazillion people like before. Maybe not Greek columns. But something big. Otherwise, it will look like we couldn’t draw a crowd.”

Jack: And the other side, let me guess, said, “yeah, but what if we actually can’t draw a crowd—won’t that look even worse? “

Bob:  Yes, plus, no way they are going to get the same level of excitement—So they would argue: “Why  not just go traditional this time. Make it manageable, get some movie stars. We can blow the place apart…”

Jack: And the stadium people said, “uh uh. If we do that, the sneering opposition will taunt us. Where are the Greek columns, haw haw. Where is the overflowing stadium?”

Bob: It’s like you were in the room.

Jack: And  how about: “can you honestly tell me you don’t think there are 74,000 people in North Carolina  who would want to see the President?”

Bob: “Especially if it is free and there are movie stars, rock bands?…”

Jack: Okay, so what happened?

Bob smiled: Bad weather. Didn’t you see the news? Because weather is news, after all. Very seldom happens in North Carolina, so they weren’t expecting it.

Jack: Right. So what’s the upshot?

Bob: There are two sides, and you can guess who they are, because I’m not going to tell you. The side that pushed for the stadium, they may need to get some of those US Air tickets home, because there might not be enough room for them on Air Force One.

Jack: Are they toast?

Bob: Let’s just say, the doubts about their judgment have been realized. They may not be fired, but are officially marginalized.

Jack: Well, it looks like they have papered over it pretty well. I read in the Washington Post  a senior Obama adviser said:

“The noise in the room and response to the speech are what people are going to be talking about on Friday.”

Bob: No. they won’t. On Friday, they are going to be talking about the jobs report.

Jack: One more thing, because we are running out of space and I think I see the shuttle bus: What about the platform changes? What went wrong there?

Bob: First of all, as you know perfectly well,  the only thing you can do with the platform is hand it to the other side  so they use it to bludgeon you. In this case, the Democrats have taken that a step further and laced it with broken glass.

Jack: But how in the world did this happen?

Bob: Once again, crappy staff  work. The most passionate believers –who are so wacky you can’t even let them on the stage at 5 o’clock, when nobody is watching– they get a seat on the platform committee. They drag out the platform from the last election and massage the language a little. They may try to beef up certain parts, and someone, known as a grownup, tells them no. In a nice way of course.

The language goes up the line and someone in the White House, the campaign, or both, vet it. The White House may even send some of the more complicated issues out to the various departments to make sure it is consistent with administration policy. All along the way, everyone rolling their eyes, because they know what a worthless document it is…

Jack: When you say “someone in the White House,” do you mean the President? Did the President approve it?

Bob: No way. But somebody did. Let the finger pointing begin. Because nobody wanted the most memorable, unscripted moment of the convention to be Mayor Villaraigosa saying “Let me try that again…”

Jack: Well, nobody in the Democratic party, at least. Here’s the bus.

Jack and Bob are fictional characters from my novel Spin Doctor, which is about politics (not this election). It is economical and convenient to send fictional correspondents to cover news events. The information in this story is fiction, except for the parts that you couldn’t make up.

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